My Approach to Design

Cybernetics, non-linearity, craft and a wrench.

Location in the Landscape

Lets locate design in relation to other historic disciplines. Design resides between engineering and art, within the spectrum of behaviour and utility.

MIT Media Lab, The journal of design and science

Cybernetics; A cyclic process

Design is a dynamic interdisciplinary and cybernetic practice of giving shape to materials and experiences in different scales towards articulated goals.

Cybernetics comes from the greek word Kyber which essentially means to steer. This term was then used to describe different regulatory systems in biology, computing paradigms. It is a cycle of sensing, deciding and acting upon a particular signal towards some goals.

Cybernetic Design Cycle — Bharath Haridas

Each medium and discipline carries its own set of processes, skills, tools and sensibilities but follows a similar cyclical approach.

Scales and Non-linearity

It is important to start from a place of what is known and available and move towards the scales that will complete the process. Start anywhere and move to other scales. Create a plan and revise it according to how you identify the missing links. One might start with an overall system, or a graphical element.

Scales of Design — Bharath Haridas

For example in a scenario where one starts working with a group of actors or a space to create a story before writing a script, or tinker with a technology to see its possibilities and limitations in order to create a goal driven process.


At the more smaller scales of production, craftsmanship is required more than abstractions and systemic approaches.

Craft of a medium

Between visual communication disciplines such as graphic design, video and experience design, there are shared and exclusive activities.

Shared Activities

Setting up an archive, Tool training, Intention setting, Scaled down prototyping, Initial Making gesture, Narratives, sequencing and rhythm, Variations for Comparison, Heuristic evaluation Feedback and synthesis, Iterative process,

Medium Specific principles

Graphic — Geometric and modular division of a surface.
Video — Rules of montage, Framing reality.
Experience Design — Interaction with a system across a span of time.
Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Kuleshov’s Effect:


Within this process of craft and making it’s important to remember that most design artifacts engages with perception, culture and aesthetics. In order to create something that might be surprising to the designer and the audience one has to shake up the process a bit by adding some friction. This tension sets up the designer to explore and negotiate the design process in unpredictable ways. Throwing in a wrench becomes a part of the process.

Michael Lee-Chin Crystal — Daniel Libeskind

Design Thinking, Creative Direction and Craft

Design thinking is seen to be disengaged with material craft, however the ability shape an intangible experiences, product or system is a scaled, abstracted understanding that comes from operating on materials.